Archive for March, 2014

Deer in the Headlights – What is big data?

Posted on: March 31st, 2014 by Jeff Gaura No Comments

The latest fashionable phrase on the streets of IT is “Big Data.”  There are lots of meanings of the word “Big” and the word, “Data.”  What are the two, when tied together?

The photo does a better job at describing it than my words ever will.

The Big Idea behind Big Data

The Big Idea behind Big Data

Let’s look at these two words.

“Big” means measured in units with too many zeros to understand.  Like the US National Debt, we see the size and can let it register in our minds, but it is beyond our capacities to understand.  What do we do with this?

“Data” assumes that there are meaningful patterns to be found in the strings of zeros and ones.  Similar to a word search puzzle, thinkers postulate that within the information exists a “Yahtzee” of value that has not yet been known.

The first conclusion I draw has to do with order of magnitude.  We cannot possible ever learn even a meaningful fraction of what can be learned.  We all learn about how many brain cells we have, and that we use only a fraction of what is given to us.  That said, even if we could use them all, there aren’t enough combinations of 0 and 1, nor enough processing time for us to ingest even 1 day’s global information, over the course of an 80 year life. One article I read speculates that 15 minutes would be the maximum amount of information we could ever get.

The second conclusion is a bit more subjective.  There is a belief there are patterns within Big Data that contain value.  Namely, within the Big Data Matrix, to play off the Hollywood movie, we can examine Big Data and extract information from it that is meaningful.  This remains to be proven, but the assumption is at the root of many software algorithms that analyze customer shopping trends and web searches.

The third point is that the momentum of big data is now affecting everyone, long after they die.  George Washington certainly did lots of writing, public speaking and praying while he was alive.  Yet, since his death, far more books have been written about him than were written by him, during his life.  This point was true literally 50 years after his death, and the volume of analysis and inspections on his life continues to grow, even though no new data is added anymore.

What does that mean for you?  Your Linked-in profile shall exist after you die, especially if you die, right now.  Facebook likes continue after you die, as does email traffic and postings of photos taken that include you.  A few months ago, Linked-in suggested that I connect with my old insurance agent who died two years ago.

We are now all like George Washington.  Yet, we live in a society with no standards for shutting down or making Big Data inaccessible once a person no longer is alive.  Should we regulate what can and can’t be done with a person’s online profile when they aren’t alive?  We already do that with their artifacts, c/o the probate process.  Do we do that with their digital world?

I don’t know.  I sure like the conversation.

What are you doing with Big Data in your business?

A plan to fix a hyper-linked life

Posted on: March 17th, 2014 by webadmin No Comments

Recently, I got a recommendation to read a book about the under-the-cover story about what this “life” that leans on technology is doing, down deep.

The Hyperlinked Life” talks about how our brains get rewired as we live a connected/hyper-linked life.  The authors make the following claims.

  1. It is a privilege to have access to information, as we have it.
  2. We need to do a digital detox, now and then.
  3. We all need to practice a digital Sabbath.  Go analog, at least for one cycle of the sun, once a week.  We need to watch sunsets, take walks, have coffee with a friend, make something by hand and look a loved one in the eye, with nothing on our person that is online.
  4. Well-being in contingent on off grid time.
  5. We should develop hyperlinked habits that define the real now, not the “you” that you want to be.  Don’t let your online profile be different than the real you.  Present a fair, undoctor ’d you.
  6. Mentor and be mentored by the next generation.  They are most likely at risk to letting the hyperlinked life rule them.
  7. Redefine your idea of stewardship to include technology.  Expand it from its current, “time, treasures and talents,” to include technology.
  8. Shift from using people and loving devices to loving people and using devices.
  9. Be discerning in what you call “information.” The source is more important than the content.  Take the time to discover the source.  The “Internet” isn’t a source.

I personally love the value and freedom that comes from information access.  Yet, we need to take what is called a technology Sabbath.  Take a day a week, and live it, unconnected to the rest of the world’s devices.  Take a walk, sit on the porch, love the ones you are with, and don’t check email/VM/Facebook or social media.  Get back to how you are made.

Each weekend, I walk away from my Smartphone, and I feel no guilt.  Sure, training for a world class competition takes up much of my time, but I don’t feel at a loss when my phone is off.

How do you digitally detox?

How do you handle the obsession over what society has labelled as “working moments,” when they are really signs of an addition?